Once upon a time there was a friend of mine who was really attracted to this girl. By the way he would talk, it seemed that he truly believed that if he were in a relationship with this girl he would be completely happy, and no matter what other bad things were going on in his life, the fact that this particular girl was with him in a relationship would enable him to endure any hardship.
He asked her out. She said yes. They dated for awhile. She lost interest. He held on, thinking having her was the fulfillment of ultimate desire… it pushed her away, and he lost her. He came over to my apartment when it happened. I’ll never forget what he said: “you know, I legitimately thought that (this girl) was what I really wanted, but now that I’ve lost her I’m realizing that it is something else entirely that I want, and by making her my ultimate pursuit I was using her in my relentless pursuit of the other thing…”
Have you ever had a desire for something and spent lots of energy trying to pursue that thing only to realize later that it wasn’t that thing that you desired but something else? Maybe you thought you wanted a job, but when you strip away all the ‘company lines,’ you realized that what you really wanted was the status that came from the job? Have you ever thought you wanted a relationship, but what you really wanted was the security that comes from being in a relationship?
Its what caused Alexander the Great, after conquering all of the known world, to sit down on a rock facing the Mediterranean and weep over the lack of worlds left to conquer. Its what led reporters to find John Elway during his first Super Bowl win to be found alone in his hotel room during all the festivities, and the only reason he could give was “now that I’ve won the Super Bowl, now what?”
I often wonder if this world was wired for disappointment, but not the bad kind of disappointment: the kind that keeps us from pursuing good things as ultimate things; the kind that wrestles us into gratitude for the joys and pleasure that come and go. And could it be that it is not merely a design flaw but a designed flaw…a glitch wired by God into the system … that our disappointments are really some sort of divine compass to point us to a true Source and Fountain of all desire… sometimes I wonder …
So ask this question with me today: “I think I want (you-fill-in-the-blank), but what I really want is (you-fill-in-the-blank).” Can you say that about anything in your life?